The Thanksgiving weekend is a huge time for watching, and a quieter time for major new releases. This week’s new theatrical releases include a new Resident Evil movie and a wild true-crime romp in the form of House of Gucci.
But good news: If you’re stuck at home with tons of family, reeling from the Thanksgiving holiday overloaded, there are a ton of new movies premiering on streaming and rental platforms for you to watch at home. Pickings include Halle Berry’s directorial debut Bruised on Netflix, Peter Jackson’s big Beatles documentary on Disney Plus, a movie that might just win Kirsten Stewart an Oscar, plus a ton of genre fare for those who aren’t quite ready for the holiday season. Here’s what to watch this week.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Directed and starring Halle Berry, and produced by Basil Iwanyk (John Wick, Sicario), Bruised tells the story of Jackie Justice, a now disgraced MMA fighter who agrees to a brutal underground fight in order to win her way back into spotlight, all while attempting to wrestle with her inner demons and reconcile with her son Manny whom she abandoned years before. The trailer features Berry, bruised and bloodied, as she struggles to lift herself from the mat after a devastating defeat. According to one report, Berry threw herself into the role — and broke two ribs in the process. “[It was] kind of a crazy injury,” stunt coordinator Eric Brown told Entertainment Weekly in August. “But that was just her intensity … Halle’s a special case. I’ve worked with tons of actors, and almost none of them have that kind of work ethic.”
If you’re looking for an explosive, action-packed, exquisitely well-shot Hong Kong crime drama to watch this holiday weekend, you may want to turn to Raging Fire. Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) stars as Cheung Sung-bon, an officer of the Regional Crime Unit who finds himself at odds with Yau Kong-ngo (Nicholas Tse), a former protégé who embarks on a bloody mission of revenge for his mentor’s betrayal. You like high-speed chases, tense interrogation scenes, frenetic gun fights, and stylish explosions? Of course you do, go watch Raging Fire!
If you don’t want to enter the battleground of Black Friday shopping, consider checking out this new horror comedy headlined by Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero, Michael Jai White, and Bruce Campbell. Set at a big-box toy store, the typical horrors of seasonal shoppng season escalate when an alien goop turns some of the employees into frothing undead. While anyone who’s worked retail already knows the feeling, director Casey Tebo looks to have put enough of a genre spin on it to make this one a treat.
The Beatles: Get Back
Where to watch: Available to stream on Disney Plus
The latest film from The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is gong straight to the Extended Edition: After planning to release a two-hour version of the documentary, the filmmaker decided to chop up the film — which draws from more than 60 hours of unseen footage shot in 1969 by the director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and 150 hours of unheard audio — into a multi-part Disney Plus special. But we’re still putting it on our list of the week’s movie offerings because of Jackson’s original vision and inevitable, cinematic touch. So there!
Pablo Larraín’s psychological drama Spencer centers on the life of Diana, Princess of Wales who, while struggling with her mental health and the corrosive influence of the royal family, decides to end her decade-long marriage to Prince Charles. Kristen Stewart has received significant praise for her portrayal of the late princess, and the film as a whole has been heralded by several critics as one of the year’s best. From our review,
This is a biopic acutely concerned with parsing Diana’s psychology, and specifically, her many demons. But not in a salacious way. While heading to Sandringham Estate, she sees a scarecrow standing in the middle of a field, wearing her father’s red coat. (In real life, her father, John Spencer, died three months after that Christmas, of a heart attack.) She goes to retrieve the outerwear, hoping to have it cleaned. Diana grew up on the Queen’s estate in Park House, making her journey to the Christmas festivities both a heartening homecoming and an unfortunate duty, causing a wellspring of grief to affect her in varying fashions.
Where to watch: Available to stream on HBO Max
Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Jakubowski, 8-Bit Christmas is yet another consumerist-driven holiday children’s comedy à la A Christmas Story or Jingle All The Way, following the story of young boy named Jake Doyle growing up in the suburbs of Chicago who yearns for his very own Nintendo Entertainment System. Narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, who plays an older version of Jake recounting the story to his young daughter in the present-day, the trailer looks charming and outrageous — the perfect kind of movie to get in the mood for the winter holidays.
Hugh Jackman (Logan) stars in Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy’s feature directorial debut Reminiscence as Nick Bannister, a private investigator who alongside his assistant Watts (Thandiwe Newton) specializes in navigating the minds of his clients in search of answers. Think Inception, but less emphasis on corporate espionage and impossible architecture. After crossing paths with a mysterious client (Rebecca Ferguson), Nick’s quest to solve her disappearance morphs into an obsessive odyssey that blurs the lines between past, present, reality, and fiction. From our review,
As a noir mystery, Reminiscence is certainly solid, with a series of complications and surprising reveals, and a genre-friendly helping of double-crossings and double-dealings, of slimy mobsters and rich monsters. It mostly fails through its character dynamics, especially for anyone who isn’t swooning over Nick’s monomania. Nick’s soppy voiceover not only steers the audience toward maudlin self-pity, it overexplains things better left subtle and up to interpretation, and it prevents viewers from just quietly soaking in the movie’s elaborate dystopian spectacle. It’s an irritating, intrusive drag, constantly trying to steer the audience and tell them what to think or how to feel. Joy’s symbolism can be equally heavy-handed: a bit of business with a recurring lost queen from a deck of cards is a ridiculously gratuitous bit of stagecraft in a story about a missing woman.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Shudder
Just need to freak out the whole family gathered for the holidays? In Shudder’s new release, Catherine, a budding musician, heads to a remote cottage to work on new material in solitude. But according to Shudder’s description, “Soon after, strange and seemingly supernatural occurrences begin to manifest at the cottage, escalating each night and dangerously eroding Catherine’s sense of reality.”
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Tick, Tick… Boom!
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Based on the autobiographical musical of the same name by Rent creator Jonathan Larson, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick… Boom! stars Andrew Garfield as Jon, a promising theater composer struggling to make his mark on the world. Frustrated with his lack of success and anxious about his upcoming 30th birthday, Jon remains dogged in his personal mission to create something great, while remaining oblivious to the medical condition that will eventually claim his life. From our review,
But from moment to moment, this version of Tick, Tick… Boom! is heartfelt and moving. It’s a generous two-hour thank-you note from Miranda to the man who helped make his career possible. Several of the songs are show-stoppers, including the ballad “Why” (a touching reflection on Jon’s lifelong friendship with Michael), the jaunty ditty “Boho Days” (which is like Rent compressed into three minutes), the comedic “Therapy” (a dissection of a broken relationship, in the style of Kander and Ebb musicals like Chicago and Cabaret), and “Sunday” (a Sondheim-derived ode to brunch with an impressive list of cameos Netflix has asked critics not to reveal). Musical-theater buffs are going to want to watch the best numbers from this film on repeat, and there are many of them.
Where to watch: Available to stream on HBO Max
The 2021 biopic drama King Richard stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of future tennis superstars Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena Williams (Demi Singleton) who attempts to both raise and coach the young prodigies to greatness. From our review,
This film, without explicitly saying so, is a version of events approved by the real-life Williams family. That leads to friction between the glossy, wholesome triumphs common to most sports biopics, and the uneasy interrogation needed for a character like Williams, a vain leader who’s guiding his daughters toward tremendous triumphs, while feeding them uncomfortable and even disturbing messages. That push and pull between frankness and a spin that flatters Williams keeps Green’s King Richard from being a truly great film. But it doesn’t inhibit it from being enjoyable. It’s tonally conflicted, but it’s an oddly compelling piece about an unlikely Black family succeeding in a white-dominated space.
Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright’s giallo-inspired psychological horror thriller Last Night in Soho stars Thomasin McKenzie (Old, Jojo Rabbit) as Ellie, a timid aspiring fashion designer who romanticizes the bygone era of 1960s glamor. After moving to London to attend college, Ellie begins to experience vivid dreams of living in ’60s Soho through the eyes of Sandie (The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy), a wannabe singer whisked into a whirlwind relationship with a charming manager named Jack (Matt Smith). Those dreams lead to some absolutely amazing effects work, but before long, they take a darker turn, bleeding into her conscious reality and haunting her at every turn. To reconcile the past, Ellie has to track down a ruthless killer without becoming a victim herself. From our review,
Soho feels like Wright’s most explicit interrogation of his own sentimental impulses, and simultaneously, his most stylistically grandiose work. But central to this story, too, is the violent and lurid exploitation of women. This is certainly Edgar Wright at his Edgar Wright-iest, but even as he’s arguing against celebrating the past in Last Night in Soho, he’s celebrating it himself, in ways that are hard to escape, and at times, harder still to enjoy.
Zeros and Ones
Set over the course of one night, Abel Ferrara’s gritty political-thriller Zeros and Ones stars Ethan Hawke in the dual role of J.J., an American soldier stationed in Rome, and Justin, his militant twin brother. When the Vatican is attacked and the threat of an imminent terrorist bombing is declared, J.J must race to find out what his brother knows of the attack and thwart it before the world is tipped into utter chaos. The trailer looks exciting, and the premise alone sounds eerily similar to Hawke’s previous performance in the 2014 sci-fi action thriller Predestination crossed with Ang Lee’s 2019 film Gemini Man. So if you’re a fan of either one of those movies, you should absolutely give this one a shot.
Choo choo, all aboard the Jungle Cruise! The latest effort in Disney’s ongoing effort to spin every one of its notable theme-park rides into a sustainable theatrical franchise, Jungle Cruise stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Frank “Skipper” Wolff, a riverboat captain hired to transport Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) into the heart of the exotic jungle in search of the Tree of Life. It’s not exactly Fitzcarraldo or The Lost City of Z, but it does have zombie snake-men and CG-animated leopards, plus Jesse Plemons as a German aristocrat in a submarine. From our review,
Jungle Cruise is beholden not just to the antiquated tropes of archaeological adventure movies, but also the ride’s own problematic legacy. To their credit, the filmmakers do their best to subvert that legacy. The choice to have the coveted treasure be part of the natural world, instead of the ruins of an ancient civilization already helps. But the best adaptation is that the indigenous people of the jungle are civilized, and they’re Frank’s buddies — they only attack the tourists because they have an agreement where he pays them to scare the travelers for extra thrills. The leader of the tribe — the infamous Trader Sam, originally an outdated park character — is a woman in the movie. She doesn’t get a lot of screen time, and is more of an Easter Egg than a woman of color with a story of her own, but at least the filmmakers are acknowledging the ride’s past and considering how to modernize their thinking.
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Where to watch: Available to stream on Shudder
As anyone familiar with Nicolas Cage’s work knows, there’s no such thing as “over-the-top” to the Oscar-winning actor. So when it comes to Prisoners of the Ghostland, a neo-noir Western action movie starring Cage as a criminal mercenary named Hero sent to a parallel dimension to rescue a warlord’s granddaughter, it’s really just par for the course for Cage at this point. There’s samurai action, gore, and testicle-mounted explosives galore, and it absolutely, unequivocally whips. From our review,
Prisoners of the Ghostland is primed for the packed-house, few-drinks-in midnight-movie slot. Presented in the less-than-ideal at-home venue, by nature of virtual Sundance, it’s a delightful love letter to action-movie excess. Like The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending or, more literally, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Sono embraces cartoon nonsense logic in order to whisk Cage to each of the film’s unexpected mile markers. The Governor is American, so obviously he strolls out in all whites and a cowboy hat. The samurai warriors might as well be RPG NPCs engaging in a sword battle set to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.” A sequence depicting the accident that melted the countryside into a decaying shade of its former self flips across the screen like the pages of a manga. A star who has perfected the mouth-agape, raised-eyebrow “Wut?” face is the glue that keeps all the pieces stuck to the collage.
DaCosta’s 2021 sequel to the 1992 horror classic Candyman recontextualizes the original film in surprising (and critically divisive) ways, imagining the phantom serial killer Candyman less as a singular specter, and more as a generational trauma conjured by the sacrifice of Black people victimized by systemic violence. While the creative ambitions of DaCosta’s film are admirable, the film itself might leave something to be desired for some viewers. From our review,
Like Anthony, DaCosta seems to want to say something substantial with her work. Her Candyman makes broad metaphorical strokes about the larger urban Black experience, but it’s aimed at an oblivious audience that needs didactic storytelling to understand racial politics. The film’s end is particularly muddled, doing more to set up a sequel than to smartly bind together Candyman’s varied, nascent themes. The film is missing out on a cohesive vision, to the point where the audience will spend the entire film waiting for the flashbacks and summaries to end, and for DaCosta’s movie to finally begin. But by the end, she’s only offered a visually stunning homage to the original film. For a director of her talent, that isn’t enough.
Do you like 2004’s Primer? Do you like watching actors argue with themselves, but don’t feel like watching Zeros and Ones or 1998’s Dead Ringers? Multiverse should be right up your alley then. The sci-fi thriller follows Loretta (Paloma Kwiatkowski), Danny (Robert Naylor), Amy (Sandra Mae Frank), and Gerry (Munro Chambers), four young scientists on the verge of discovering a means of proving multiverse theory. In the wake of a devastating tragedy, the group become even more fixated on accomplishing their goal and finding a way to travel to another universe. But their actions could inadvertently endanger the lives of not only their loved ones, but every universe that has ever existed.